Who Loves Summer School?

Ceramic tile making

Emily Showing her Tile

Would you like to spend your summer in a classroom?  Probably not.  So why are children so happy to attend the Montessori Summer Program at Evergreen School?

Here is why: When learning is doing, a classroom is just a playground for the mind.

A Montessori classroom is unlike what most people associate with school.  In programs like ours, children get to make decisions about the work they choose.  Their interests and independence are honored.  A child may so involved with building words that he or she spends all morning putting letters together. Another child may be busy manipulating numbers. Another child is building a model or identifying parts of a frog.   Everything is hands-on and active.

Children are natural learners with absorbent minds.  In the right environment, the distinction between concepts like “work” and “play” has no meaning. There is only discovering, doing and mastering. Likewise,  the distinction between “summer vacation” and “school” has no meaning.

Around the country, parents and educators are reacting to the crisis in education by experimenting with the traditional school calendar.  Year-round school is gaining popularity.  Yet if the classroom structure does not change, more time in school may not lead to more learning.  Longer hours or more months in teacher-driven classrooms may only erode students’ already flagging enthusiasm for learning.

What will improve education?  More classrooms modeled on Montessori principles.

Last year, before I saw the Montessori Summer Program at Evergreen in action, I mistakenly thought that a summer in a classroom was cruel punishment.  After seeing the joy of learning continue around the calendar, I realize that no one wants a nine-week vacation from doing the things they love.

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